Divergent Review

divergent1-1024x432

Via thereelword.net

From the creator of sci-fi thriller Limitless and period drama The Illusionist, comes Divergent, an adaptation of the YA novel by Veronica Roth. Set in a post-apocalyptic world, as has been the trend in recent years, this society is divided into five factions: Amnesty (happy people), Candor (the eternally honest), Erudite (knowledge seekers), Abnegation (selfless) and Dauntless (the fearless). A young woman named Tris (Shailene Woodley), fights against the structure of her world when she learns that, as a Divergent, she doesn’t fit into any of these five factions.

Unfortunately, this film fits perfectly into its cookie-cutter mold. At its core, Divergent is a coming of age story about a young woman truly finding herself. There’s nothing wrong with that, but the message to be yourself is all but presented in bright flashing letters at the bottom of the screen. The irony of this film promoting individualism, whilst giving the audience a case of déjà vu for films gone by (The Hunger GamesTwilightI Am Legend anyone?), should be lost on no one.

While Woodley gives a phenomenal performance, delivering the dead pan sarcasm of her character flawlessly and truly engaging the audience in Tris’s pain, it can’t make up for the predictability of the story. The antagonist is clearly the system itself (and its representatives), but the story arch seamlessly hits the stages of every other “find yourself” flick there is. Girl steps outside comfort zone, wonders if she’s made the right choice, is encountered with obstacles, overcomes them, somewhere along the way a boy enters the picture. Even the romance is lacking, as there is very little about Four (Theo James) that convinces of his love for Tris. James adequately portrays Four’s tough exterior and makes him likeable as someone who would probably do the right thing, but that’s about as far as the character goes.

The news isn’t all bad though. There are some good laughs to be had in an otherwise solemn action flick, and the cast gets an all around A+. Tony Goldwyn and Ashley Judd play Tris’ parents and Abnegation natives in performances that bring depth and love to their characters. On the other side, Kate Winslet and Jai Courtney round out the “bad guys” as Jeanine and Eric. While this certainly isn’t the highlight of Winslet’s career, she does a reasonable job of making you question her motives, and Courtney does his character justice by ensuring the audience fully supports the idea of punching him in the face throughout the entire film.

In all, this film is worth seeing purely for the performance from Woodley and the rest of the cast. The story line is overfamiliar and doesn’t exactly flow seamlessly, but there are brief moments of the individualism the film promotes. I can’t stress my love for Woodley enough in this role, and any fans of hers will surely like the film, if only for her sake. If you’re not sure, see it and see if she wins you over too.

THE REEL SCORE: 6/10

Fly the Coop: How to know your business is ready for premises

This was a blog post written for Urbette, a startup where we matched like minded businesses with space to share.

Fly the Coop: How to know your business is ready for premises

So, a few years ago you started your own business out of your home. Maybe you manufacture knitted hats for cats, design kennels for handicapped dogs, or are a freelance accountant (specialising in businesses run by parents of talented children). Whatever your business does, you set up shop in your dining room or garage and took the first step to your dream career. That’s a huge thing! But you’ve started to outgrow your grassroots start, and you’re wondering if now is the time to take the leap and find premises for your business to grow in. But how do you know? Here are some tell tale signs.

Boundary lines have become blurred and zig zagged

Everyone knows how important having work life balance is to maintain a healthy state of mind (not to mention a healthy physical state!) Sometimes working out of your home can get in the way of that. For some people, not physically leaving work behind somewhere makes it difficult to stop working at a certain time like you would in an office or a shop. While it’s great that you have a career that you’re passionate about, it’s still important to have time for yourself and your loved ones! Setting up shop outside the home is a great way to keep work at work. Plus, it eliminates having new clients (i.e. strangers!) coming into your house.

Cat hats/sketches/spreadsheets have infiltrated the entire house.

You can see on your calendar that The Very Important Project is due tomorrow. But where were you when you were reading over those briefs? Oh, briefs, wait…the bathroom! If you’re finding documents or products behind the toilet or in the freezer, it’s time to find an office or shop to work out of. Preferably one with a fantastic filing system.

Your arms are too short

Metaphorically, of course – you’re perfect the way you are! But maybe your fledgeling business has grown, and your reach isn’t quite long enough to help customers in far away lands. By setting up premises, you’re able to have a business address (rather than giving someone in Germany your home address!) You can relocate to an area more central for your customer base or closer to your suppliers, but that’s still a reasonable commute from your home.

Talking to the cat you model the hats on seems normal.

Spending all day working from home knitting hats for cats leaves little time for human interaction. I’m by no means suggesting you leave Mr.Tibbles behind (take him with you!) but it wouldn’t be the worst thing to have a coworker or two to bounce ideas off or have lunch with. When you’re stumped creatively or having technical problems or just want someone to tell exciting news to, sometimes Mr.Tibbles just doesn’t cut it.

It’s a scary leap, I know. But it’s exciting as well, and it’s doable! To make it easier, consider cosharing with someone. Sharing space and resources can make the transition easier financially, plus having a likeminded business around means expanding your client base organically. So think about who your contacts are, and reach out to them! The first thing to do, is start the conversation.

Unique Storage Ideas for Small Spaces

To quote the late-great George Carlin, ‘A house is just a place to keep your stuff – while you go out and get more stuff.’ We at My Local Broker think a home is a bit more than that, but at its core, that is what we use a house for. So what do we do when we have too much stuff and not enough space, but we aren’t quite ready for a bigger home? These storage ideas will help.


Use a pipe or a rod as a rack in a small corner. This is a great way to use the space you have without taking up valuable floor space with excess furniture.

Source: Yahoo

Source: YahooDon’t let cables and cords take over the place! Use bulldog clamps to keep them in line. These come in different sizes so they’re great for all kinds of cables, and you can attach them to tables or fabric.

Source: Pampered Mom

Source: Pampered MomTension rods are great for organising bottles of household cleaners under the sink. Getting them off the shelf means more space to keep other things (recycling bin anyone?) and makes them easily accessible.

Bonus tip: you can do the same thing with heeled shoes in your closet.

Source: LifeHack

Source: LifeHackWant to entertain, but feel torn by also wanting a place to store some of your books or blankets? Enter: the ottoman. Or a storage bench. Whichever style suits you best.

Source: Etsy

Why Should You Care About the Dollar Fluctuating?

What do you mean “the dollar is going up/down?”

The Aussie dollar, and the rest of ‘the Majors’ all trade against the US dollar. Why is this? It dates back to World War II, and something called the Bretton Woods agreement. After the war, the US was the only major country to pull through with a relatively strong economy. Because of this, the US dollar was selected through the Bretton Woods agreement to be the world’s reserve currency, and the current system of setting exchange rates against the dollar was enacted. These agreements have been altered and revisited throughout the years since, but for the sake of understanding how the dollar fluctuates, we’ll leave it at that for now.

When the dollar goes up or down, that’s comparing its value against US dollar. So for example, at the time of writing, the Australian dollar is valued at $0.74. That means that for every Aussie dollar we have, it’s only worth 74 US cents. On the flip side, for every American dollar you have, it’s worth $1.34 Australian.

So, why does this matter if you’re not a stock exchange regular or travelling overseas? There are a few ways it can affect you, and you might not even realise that they are.

Imports and exportsThis is actually a positive side effect of the dollar’s value declining. Let’s put this into an easy to understand example. Let’s say Australia is exporting wool to the US at the rate of $100 for 50 kilos, and the exchange rate is $1/$1. Great price for wool, right? But then something happens, and the Aussie dollar drops to $0.75 to every US dollar. Even better! The US can now import our wool for even lower prices, which causes a rise in demand. However, the opposite can happen if the Aussie dollar rises. Cost for importing our goods rises with it, and demand goes down as the US decides to see if they can get their wool cheaper from someone else.

Online shoppingIf you’re anything like me (or 65% of my coworkers) you know your way around an online store. How often do you buy from overseas shops? Well, in doing that, you’re converting your hard earned Australian dollars into US (or another) currency, which basically means that jumper that seems like such a good deal actually might not be.

Retail PricesThe other side of the dollar falling is that it affects our hometown retailers. In order to continue their revenue streams and make sure their businesses aren’t heavily affected, many retailers will raise their prices when the dollar drops. Unfortunately, the opposite cannot be said when the dollar rises, as businesses aren’t inclined to cut prices when the economy is good.

Personal investmentsOn a positive note, if you have personal investments overseas, the dollar decreasing is good news for you. When you go to cash in on your investments, you’ll convert the funds into Aussie dollars and reap the rewards!

There are a lot of things that impact the value of the dollar, but this will give you a general idea of what all the hullaballoo is about when you hear it on the news. There are many ways to benefit from a lower Aussie dollar – for some tips on doing so, have a chat with your local mortgage broker. They’ll be able to advise you on property investments as well as put you in touch with a financial planner if need be.

7 DIY Tips to Upgrade Your Furniture

You’ve got the dream home, and now it’s time to furnish it. But you’re also probably trying to minimise extra costs. Rather than buying all new furniture to fit your new aesthetic, try these tricks to update what you already have.

Contact paper

Contact paper is the unsung hero of DIY furniture rehab. It can upgrade old or cheap furniture quickly and at a minimal cost. You can also get a variety of looks, whether you want to make an IKEA piece look like a marble topped console table or give a nightstand a modern, metallic look. You can use cut out shapes if you’re going for a minimalist vibe.

Hello Lidy

Keep it fresh

It might sound pretty obvious, but a fresh coat of paint can completely change a piece of furniture. If the piece is damaged or even if it’s just old and you’re sick of looking at it, just give it a new colour and watch yourself fall in love with it all over again. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can even sand the piece to give it some more texture or use painters tape to mark off a pattern or design.

Centsational Girl

Give it legs

Give your basic IKEA furniture an Anthropologie upgrade by giving it legs. You can buy legs for almost any IKEA style at http://www.prettypegs.com (they ship worldwide). Lifting it off the ground can give furniture a more custom, polished look. Add them to your sofa (with a new cover if you’re sick of the colour as well!), bookshelf, bed, nightstand, etc.

Ikea Hackers

Cut Add corners

Adding brass corners to relatively plain pieces gives them a vintage feel you would normally pay big money for. You can order them via Amazon, and they’re simple to install. Whether it’s a coffee table, drawer fronts or your desk, this industrial era DIY will bring some life back into your furniture.

Little Green Notebook

Repurpose

Have a look at what’s lying around your house, and try to look at it in a new light. Got some empty jam jars? Give them a new purpose in life, and use them as brush or cutlery holders. You can even spray paint them to match your décor. Maybe you have a suitcase that doesn’t get any use? Make it into a side table. Kids outgrown their crib? Get a glass pane and make it into a desk, or break out the saw and create a bench that has sentimental value. Using what you already have to fill a need can save you a lot of money in the long run.

A Diamond in the Stuff

Make it metal

You’d be surprised how much of a difference a can of metallic spray paint makes. A simple metal and glass shelf frame can immediately get a custom look, instead of the ‘everybody-has-this-IKEA-piece’ look. This is also an easy way to re-vamp a piece that you’re repurposing.

Dream a Little Bigger

Make a hard(ware) change

This can be a slightly more expensive option depending on what kind of hardware you go for, but it still shouldn’t cost as much as replacing the furniture completely. You can find plenty of options on Etsy or eBay, from vintage glass to brass pieces. Alternatively, you can make your own drawer pulls! You can create simple but gorgeous leather pulls for drawers without built in hardware, and all you really need is an old belt, scissors, a hammer and nails.

Sugar & Cloth

DIY projects can seem daunting to some, but these are all relatively simple options that you might even be able to do without leaving the house! When buying a new house, it’s important to minimise cost wherever possible, whether through these cost saving ideas or by utilising a mortgage broker to make sure you get the best loan for your needs.

Blackfish Situational Analysis

 This is a mock situational analysis written as if I were the Public Relations Director of SeaWorld after the release of the Blackfish documentary and the subsequent public backlash.

 

Situation Analysis

This January Blackfish by Gabriela Cowperthwaite premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. The film is now set to premiere in the US (LA and NYC) on July 19th after several other festival premieres across North America. The documentary largely focuses on the 2010 death of Dawn Brancheau, the orca involved (Tillikum) and questions the general welfare of our orcas and trainers. Given the framing of the film and the negative light SeaWorld is painted in, this crisis has the potential to greatly lower visitor numbers and to permanently damage the company’s reputation, based on previous cases such as Supersize Me, a documentary that highlighted the health and nutritional values of McDonald’s food.

 

Goal

The overall goal is to get ahead of the effects of the premiere while making sure our stakeholders know the claims of this documentary are false without being insensitive to the deaths or injuries of our former trainers and the trainers referenced from other parks. The reputation of SeaWorld is based on our prioritisation of the welfare of our animals and marine animals across the world and our stakeholders need to know that hasn’t changed. Also, we will maintain that the safety of our qualified trainers and the extensive programs they go through before working directly with the animals is a top priority for SeaWorld.

Overall Key Message

The safety and welfare of all marine animals and the dedicated trainers, veterinarians and volunteers who work with them are SeaWorld’s utmost priority, alongside our global rescue and research efforts.

Messages for Stakeholders (Target Audiences)

  • Customers
    • Park visitors, prioritised in order to keep ticket sales up and protect SeaWorld’s reputation
    • Primary message is that the park is still the SeaWorld they love, with well cared for animals and family friendly fun
    • Secondary messages is that SeaWorld is a safe place to bring their families
    • Will also continue promoting SeaWorld’s marine animal research and education initiatives to this group
  • Shareholders
    • Anyone who holds shares of our NYSE stock or any other financial stake in the performance of our park
    • Primary message will be that SeaWorld plans to continue with its shows and events, and that plans are in place to ensure as little to no financial problems within the park from this documentary
    • Secondary message will be that our animals are happy, healthy and well cared for
  • SeaWorld Parks Employees
    • Employees meaning anyone who works at the park or HQ, regardless of contact with animals or whether they’re employed by SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment or an outside contractor
    • Primary message will be that, contrary to the implications of the documentary, their health and safety are and always have been our top priority
    • Secondary message will be the prioritization of our animals and ensuring our animal care staff is top notch
  • SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment Board of Directors
    • SeaWorld Parks are a division of SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment and therefore will need to assure the BOD that we have a plan in place to counteract any negative press and receive their input
    • The BOD is ultimately responsible for any major decisions made by SeaWorld and therefore their reputations are intertwined
    • Primary message will be to focus on the health and wellbeing of our staff and animals both in operations and in marketing
  • Animal welfare activists
    • As the welfare of our animals was brought into question, we will need to address these claims
    • Primary message will be that we put the health and wellbeing of our animals and trainers first
    • Secondary message will be that we are committed to researching claims of psychological trauma in orcas (or animals) held in captivity and plan to support and implement research projects in that area
    • Will also suggest looking into alternative enclosures for the orcas that promote their health and wellbeing as well as the health and wellbeing of our trainers
  • Government agencies
    • Occupational Safety and Health Administration ‘OSHA’ and the United States Department of Agriculture ‘USDA’ (and the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, APHIS, by default)
    • Will need to assure OSHA that the 2012 ruling to keep trainers out of the water with orcas has been upheld, but maintain our position that trainers can interact in the water with orcas safely
    • In looking into alternative enclosures, will need to consult with the USDA, APHIS and OSHA to ensure safety measures and compliance standards are being met
  • Corporate Partners
    • Coca-Cola, American Express, Snickers Ice Cream, Southwest Airlines, Panama Jack, Hyundai Motor America are all official corporate partners
    • Primary message will be that our relationships are still intact and valuable, that we expect by getting out in front of this premiere there should be no subsequent press for our partners
    • Secondary message will be that we will continue putting the health and wellbeing of our animals and staff first

 

Objectives

-To maintain current park visitor rates/goals, no less than 5% down

-To further educate employees of animal and park safety, also including basic media relations education

-To ensure animal welfare is prioritised at the highest level it can be

-To maintain a safe, healthy work environment for all employees, with emphasis on employees interacting with animals

-To prevent further action with OSHA similar to 2012 trials

 

Strategies

 

Strategy 1: Announcement of innovative research initiatives ahead of the film’s broad release. Initiatives should centre on claims made in Blackfish, including but not limited to the orca’s mental health in captivity, family bonds, and enclosure standards. Initiatives should use outside experts and sources to avoid accusations of tampering with facts, as presented in Blackfish.

Strategy 2: Regaining control of the narrative by working with animal rights organisations looking for ways to better the lives of not just our orcas, but all animals. By positioning ourselves alongside these organisations, we further promote the fact that our animal’s wellbeing is our top priority

Strategy 3: All animal involved employees will undergo training and safety protocol refresher courses, with amendments made in accordance with OSHA’s 2012 ruling of not having trainers in the water. All employees across SeaWorld parks will receive basic media training to prepare for the event of this becoming a bigger story. SeaWorld Parks will need to present a united front, from retail employees to CEO’s.

Strategy 4: Get park visitors involved with conservation efforts. Use promotions that benefit the animals across all three parks to bring in more visitors. Involve corporate partners as much as possible to strengthen those bonds.

Strategy 5: Have responses to Blackfish claims prepared before the premiere, but do not mention the film until the wide premiere. When called upon to comment, we will have responses prepared, particularly around the mentioned deaths. Any questions asked will be answered as truthfully as possible without breaching confidentiality or placing our employees or stakeholders at risk.

 

 

 

Tactics

  • Well prepared interviews with the Chief Executive Officer Jim Atchison, Chief Zoological Officer Brad Andrews and Vice President of Veterinary Services Dr. Christopher Dold across all media channels and news outlets promoting new research initiatives in the four months leading up to the wide release
  • Initiating social media campaigns alongside animal activist groups to further educate the public about marine mammals
  • Creating a training packet for staff, specific to their involvement in the parks (different levels for different levels of interaction with the public or the animals). This would include safety procedures, for themselves and guests, as well as education about all of SeaWorld’s animals and how to respond to media enquiries.
  • Promotions would run across all three parks that included options to donate 10% of ticket costs to a conservation organisation NOT affiliated with SeaWorld Parks. Animals who have been rescued and made recovery, but would no longer survive in the wild should be highlighted across parks and marketing.
  • Until after the premiere, no mention of Blackfish should be made in any media interview to prevent bringing more attention to the documentary

 

Evaluation

 

After the premiere of Blackfish we will be able to measure the success of this campaign by several benchmarks. In early March we will take a broad consumer survey to get a sense of how SeaWorld is viewed by the public, and then repeat the process in August to gauge reputation damage. Social media campaign success can be measured by analytics and reach. Logging any incidents and testing staff knowledge can track staff and animal safety levels. At the end of the quarter we will compare this years numbers in ticket sales and visitor engagement compared with last years. We will also have dedicated team members monitoring news stories and drawing analytics from those pages.

 

Appendix

Example of a case study of McDonald’s Super Size Me crisis

https://www.questia.com/library/journal/1P3-1269096261/mcdonalds-in-crisis-a-comparative-analysis-in-a-national

This article was published last week in the LA Times and headlines ‘Blackfish Has SeaWorld in Hot Water’

http://articles.latimes.com/2013/jan/25/entertainment/la-et-mn-sundance-blackfish-20130125

Hollywood Reporter Blackfish Review

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/movie/blackfish/review/414203

Article in the Orlando Sentinel about the 2012 OSHA actions

http://articles.orlandosentinel.com/2012-05-30/business/os-seaworld-osha-ruling-20120530_1_seaworld-killer-whale-trainers-killer-whales-marine-park-operator

Ellen Page “Comes Out” In an Inspiring Speech

Via thereelword.net

ellen page

By now, most of you will have heard Ellen Page’s message heard around the world: she is gay. For the most part, this doesn’t seem to have sent anyone into fits of outrage (aside from the odd disappointed male suitor via Twitter), but for some, her 8-minute speech was filled with novel ideas and concepts they’ve likely never been exposed to.

Page makes the bold statement that, rather than bending to the standards that she calls “crushing”, set by the entertainment industry, we join together and fight back. She defines those standards as “ideas planted in your head that weren’t there before,” telling you how to dress, or act, or even who to be. “I’ve been trying to push back,” Page stresses, but, “it can be hard.” Returning to praising the HRC (Human Rights Campaign) as she did in the beginning of her speech, she recognizes how little recognition they get for their hard work, when they themselves are fighting the same battles as those they’re working overtime to help.

Segueing from her praise of the HRC, she discusses the socially accepted “norms” for masculinity and femininity, saying sometimes “it’s the little insignificant stuff that can tear you down.” She references a journalist who asked, “Why does this petite beauty insist upon dressing like a massive man?” To which she replied that she likes being comfortable. Page presents the pressure she’s placed under as a young actress in a way anyone who has ever felt judged unfairly can relate to. She recognises beacons of hope in the LGBT community such as Michael Sam, Laverne Cox, and Teagan and Sara, as well as everyday parents who accept their children after they “come out.”

Ellen Page

The majority of the coverage of Page’s speech covered the fact that she openly stated her sexuality. However, that doesn’t seem to have been the motivation behind her headline-making actions. She admits to having selfish reasons for the announcement, including “not wanting to hide anymore”, but goes on to stress her sense of social responsibility. Page mentions bullying, rejection, dropouts, and suicides in a list of things she believes we can change by offering love to one another, rather than tearing each other apart. Although, she does recognise the difficulty of truly accepting and praising another’s beauty when someone has yet to accept themselves.

One of her final statements summarizes the real meaning behind her speech: “And I am young, yes. But what I have learned is that love, the beauty of it, the joy of it, and yes, even the pain of it, is the most incredible gift to give to a human being. And we deserve to experience love equally, fully, without shame, and without compromise.” This wasn’t a media stunt, set up to lace her “coming out” with a PR storm to benefit her. It was a young woman imploring her community to make, or continue making, an effort to show love to one another. She leaves her audience by thanking them for inspiring her and giving her hope, and asks that they keep changing the world for “people like me.” The HRC thanked her with a standing ovation, her message seemingly heard.

For those who haven’t yet seen Ellen Page’s speech, here it is: